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Parties at the Big House: Feasting, Alcohol, and Political Strategy at James Madison's Montpelier

Author(s): Christine H Heacock

Year: 2013

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Archaeological investigations at James Madison’s Montpelier have shed light on activities associated with James Madison Jr., 4th president of the United States.   Madison’s political career and contributions to the founding of the nation made his name last throughout history. Perhaps just as crucial to securing his legacy were the parties hosted by his wife Dolley Madison both in Washington and at the family home. Of particular interest is the fact that the couple entertained extensively after Madison’s retirement from the presidency until his death in 1836, which is peculiar given their dire financial straits at that time. Through the comparison of two mansion-associated middens at the property as well as the use of documentary evidence, this paper examines the Madisons’ dining activities through the lens of feasting and seeks to reveal the strategic underpinnings of elite entertainment at Montpelier, an approach easily applicable to other historic sites.

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Parties at the Big House: Feasting, Alcohol, and Political Strategy at James Madison's Montpelier. Christine H Heacock. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428431)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 490

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America